Getting students to read over the summer is such a crucial aspect to their education, but it is often where a lot of students fall behind. It’s hard to get kids to read when the sun is shining and the ocean is calling! So how can we get them to pick up a book, when they would rather be outside with their friends? Read on for some unique tips (and what not to do)!
1. Meet at the library to pick out new books.
Before the end of the school year, set a date to visit the local library with your students. Encourage them to come with the title of one book that they have read and would recommend to a friend (or you!). While you are there, students can check out new books. You can stay for a little while to discuss books or even just to read!
Helpful Hint: send out a reminder to parents through email or text about a week before your planned meet-up day. Summertime gets busy!
2. Plan a meet-up to read together at the beach/park/playground.
Similar to meeting up at the library, plan a time to meet your students and their families at a local park. They can bring blankets and a favorite book to read in the sunshine! Students could even bring a book to swap with a friend.
Helpful Hint: encourage families to bring a snack or even a picnic lunch/dinner to really enjoy the experience!
3. Create an Instagram account or blog.
Meeting up with your students during the summer might be difficult for you (or them). Try setting up a blog or Instagram account that families can visit at their leisure to encourage them to keep reading. Here are some sample post ideas:
- share the books that you are reading
- share new books that were just released
- show a picture of where you are reading (couch, swing, beach, etc.)
- ask them what they are reading
- share a reading experience
- give them a book-food connection
4. Host a book swap before the end of the year.
During the last week of school, ask students to bring in books that they don’t read anymore. It’s important to send home a letter to parents explaining this project! Since students will be swapping books, they will not be getting their original book back.
Helpful Hint: provide extra books in case kids don’t bring any in (they need the books the most!). I put together some information in this Facebook Live to help you find books for super cheap.
5. Have students create a suggested book list for each other.
Those last few days of school are often filled with extra time. Have students create book lists for each other. I even have my students create a “do not read” list for each other. They get a kick out of this! A lot of students even take this as a challenge – to read books that others didn’t like and see if they enjoy them.
Helpful Hint: have students create their own book of suggested titles to read – it’s a fun keepsake and a handy reference!
6. Challenge them to read creatively.
During the summer, reading can feel too much like school. Challenge students to switch up their routine by reading in different places or to read different types of print material (magazine, newspaper, etc.). This may lead to them finding something new that they truly enjoy! This activity is just for fun. I do not use it as a requirement for students to complete.
Helpful Hint: have students email you photos of themselves participating in the challenge for you to share to your Instagram account or blog!
Download this Reading Challenge for free!
On the other hand, there are a few key elements that will turn students off from reading over the summer. If we require students to read specific books and turn it into an assignment, reading will become an activity that they dread. If we award prizes at the start of the school year for students who did the most reading, shows them that reading is only done for a reward. To create truly avid readers, we need to allow for choice and we need to show them that reading is an enjoyable experience.